23200 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu
This immaculately preserved 1930’s Moorish-Spanish-style villa serves an important purpose in the community: to educate visitors about the history of Malibu, going all the way back to the 18th century when the land was home to the Chumash Indians. You can see the entire house, with its elaborate tile work and stunning views of the Pacific Ocean during a one-hour guided tour, and if you visit on a Friday, save some time for a tour of the gardens as well. (Its' history and idyllic setting also make the property a coveted wedding venue.) Also on site is the Malibu Lagoon Museum, offering an even deeper dive into Malibu’s past.
Drill Surf & Skate
30745 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu
While surf lessons for kids are a dime a dozen around these parts, skateboarding lessons are more complicated to arrange. As its name suggests, Drill Surf & Skate does both, and does them really, really well, so you should feel good knowing the kiddos are in good hands. Also on offer, rentals for every type of board-centric sport (surf, body, SUP), plus all the supporting accessories. And for board-owning pros, they’ll arrange to send your board out for minor repairs and have it looking like new in less than a week.
El Matador State Beach
32215 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu
The giant rocks coming up from the sand (not to mention the exquisite sunset views) at El Matador make it a favorite for photographers, and many people stage engagement or family photoshoots here. That said, it's usually not too crowded, in part because those same rocks make it difficult to swim and surf—it's really best for picnicking, reading, and enjoying the view. Be sure to pack a blanket and wear tennis shoes, as the parking lot is on a bluff far above the beach, and the walk down can get a bit hairy.
27420 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu
This semi-hidden beach sprawls over the stretch of coastline where PCH meets Escondido Road. Not quite as crowded as the more spacious beaches in the area, Escondido is the perfect size and vibe for mellow sunbathing or strolling with the family. Parking can get tricky, so its best to park along PCH, and access the beach through a public stairway west of Geoffrey’s. Keep in mind, no dogs allowed.
Los Leones Trail
Los Leones Dr., Pacific Palisades
Starting at the end of Los Leones Drive in the Palisades, the best version of this hike ends at the Parker Mesa Overlook in Malibu, which is the perfect perch to have a snack or a meal after a roughly three-mile ascent. (About a mile in, make sure you take a hard left at the Paseo Miramar Trail junction.) There’s not a lot of shade—and because of the unsurprisingly gorgeous view of the Santa Monica Bay and surrounding area at the top, it’s fairly well-traveled—so it’s best to go in the early morning. You’ll see “Los Leones” and “Los Liones” used interchangeably; don’t worry, they’re the same thing. There are a couple small parking lots at the bottom, and ample (free) street parking. Note: No dogs allowed.
Malibu Creek State Park
1925 Las Virgenes Rd., Calabasas
Nestled into the Santa Monica mountains high above PCH, people call this state park the Yosemite of Southern California because of the many rock climbers it attracts year-round. It's also home to some great wildlife: On any given day, you can almost always find lizards, rattlesnakes, raccoons, foxes, bluebirds, and more up here. If rock climbing isn’t your thing, the park offers a long list of activities such as biking, hiking, horseback riding, kayaking, camping, bird watching, and even painting. Fun fact: The park was formerly owned by 20th Century Fox Studios, and has starred in Pleasantville, The Seven Year Itch, and Love Me Tender, among many other films. Note: While you can bring them to your campsite, dogs aren't allowed in the backcountry here.
Malibu Hindu Temple
1600 Las Virgenes Canyon Rd., Malibu
Technically outside Malibu city limits in Calabasas, this gleaming, otherworldly, South Indian-style temple is a straight shot up Las Virgenes Canyon from PCH. The temple was built in 1981 for the god Venkateswara, with shrines for various deities scattered throughout the property along with ample space for quiet reflection and meditation. Other than the breathtaking architecture, what’s special is that participating in ceremonies or prayer isn’t a requirement—visitors are welcome to simply take it all in from the sidelines—just make sure to reference the rules of conduct. On weekends, the temple kitchen serves surprisingly delicious vegetarian snacks for a small charge.
Malibu Surf Shack
22935 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu
This isn’t the only spot on the highway to rent gear, but it’s arguably one of the best, due in no small part to its cozy proximity to Surfrider Beach. In addition to rentals—kayaks, boards (including SUP), and wetsuits—you can book lessons from skilled instructors who know their craft and the surrounding area. If you’ve got time to spare, consider arranging a guided kayak or paddle boarding tour. The shack is also a good place to purchase Malibu-centric souvenirs for pals back home.
Malibu Wine Safari
32111 Mulholland Hwy, Malibu
Just off a winding stretch of Mulholland perched high in the hills sits the thousand-acre Saddlerock Ranch—picturesque, with rolling hills, its bucolic grounds also happen to serve as a home to several zebras, water buffalo, yaks, llamas, alpaca, and an attention-loving giraffe named Stanley. During the week, 60-minute-long tours are available for families with littles (48 inches and above) in an open-air black-and-white striped Jeep. Kids have the chance to interact with and feed the animals. On the weekends, adults can book a boozy version which includes a tour through the vineyards, quick history lesson, and a series of tastings. Note: Book early, as the weekend tastings are popular with large groups.
One Gun Ranch
22634 Mansie Ln., Malibu
Tucked away in the hills of Malibu, One Gun, a dreamy ranch owned by Alice Bamford and Ann Eysenring is breathtakingly beautiful, sure, but it also serves as a kind of ground zero for sustainable agriculture. Every nook and cranny reveals another Instagram-ready moment: There’s a mountainside guesthouse with its own potbellied stove, a suped-up vintage Airstream, a dressage arena, as well as alpacas, sheep, goats, chickens, and a loving donkey named Waffles who strolls the grounds, willingly accompanying Alice and Ann on foraging hikes. While the property is no longer open to visitors, the pair hosts a series of school tours for children to learn about composting and gardening at home while exploring One Gun’s own garden where they grow corn, beans, squash, and even pumpkins. For a closer look, it’s worth picking up a copy of One Gun Ranch, Malibu: Biodynamic Recipes for Vibrant Living for tips on healthy living, easy-to-follow recipes, and a closer look at environmental stewardship on the ranch.
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